Dear First-Generation College Students

Being the first person in my family to go to a four-year university has been daunting. I came to college not knowing what to expect. Filling out FAFSA was a nightmare, getting financial aid in order had me nauseated at 2 a.m., and not knowing how to get to the cafeteria made peanut butter sandwiches a staple in my diet. Everything was a million times more complicated because I had no help, and I didn’t know how to ask for it. However, out of the dumpster-fire that was my first year, I have learned tips to help those of us not blessed with college family legacies.

  • Ask for help!

I suck at relying on people. I usually think I can do everything myself and not run into any snags. That was the biggest lie ever told, especially in college. If you don’t know where you are or what you are doing, you need to ask for help. Your RA’s and fellow students are not going to bite you for asking how to get to the bathroom in a certain building. The people at the front desk in the library are more than willing to help you find a book for your research paper. Do not be scare to say you are lost, people are a lot more helpful than you think.

  • Visit every building on your campus!

There will come a time where you will have a class in some random part of your university. On the first day of class, you will be scrambling to figure out how to get there, and if the room is on the first floor or on the fifth. Oh, and don't forget about the little nooks and crannies at the end of hallways that hide whole classrooms from view. In leu of being lost and late on the first day, or any other subsequent day, try to visit every building. See where the classes are, where the little restaurants are, where the bathroom is in every building. Trust me, you will regret it when an event is happening in a building you have never heard of.

  • Go to the “start of the year” events!

I unfortunately missed all the start of the year events for my campus because I came in the Spring instead of the Fall. But for the years that followed, I never went to them because I thought I was too “old”. That would be my biggest downfall. The beginning of the school year is a time to make new connections and get involved with your campus. Everyone is wrapped up in the newness of being at college and will be open to making friends and helping the new kid on the block. Also, at the events you will see all the fun your campus has to offer, so go to them! They might make your experience a little bit brighter.

  • Join clubs!

When I first came to university, I didn’t think clubs were for me. I am an introvert, a social anxiety-having-weirdo. I ended up with no friends and no one to talk to for a year. Unless you truly do not want any friends and crave to be alone, please join clubs. My university sends emails about the events happening on campus, and there is usually a day given to talking about all the clubs offered. See which ones are close to your wants and go to the interest meetings. You won’t regret opening yourself up to new opportunities. Also, there will always be at least one person you will become life long friends with.